France will send a total of 2,000 troops for the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, President Jacques Chirac announced Thursday.
In a nationally televised address, Chirac said France will increase its deployment from an already announced 400 troops, and hopes to retain command of the force. He said the United Nations had provided the guarantees France had sought involving the mandate of the force.
"Two extra battalions will go on to the ground to extend our numbers within UNIFIL," Chirac said. "Two thousand French soldiers are thus placed under blue helmets in Lebanon," he added, referring to the colored headgear UN forces wear.
"These 2,000 soldiers include the 400 military personnel already present on the ground," he added.